TMCnet Feature
May 17, 2022

Emil Michael Reveals His Tips on Executive Hires

The past few years have been difficult for many businesses, particularly in the service sector. According to a recent report, the average employee turnover rate for all companies in the United States is 57.3%. “Every company goes through hard times, so what do you do during those hard times? I think you have to identify the people who are going [the] distance, make sure you're doing the best to keep them,” shares Emil Michael, the chairman and CEO of DPCM Capital Inc. “They're your best ambassadors. They are usually magnets who attract other people with their missionary outlook. And one could say, ‘You're rewarding people you know really well because they've been with you longer.’ Because they're the heart and soul of this, they understand the culture. So they're going to be the best recruiters."

You have to keep your best employees motivated, Michael stresses. “You have to really have a tight group around you. If I am trying to keep them as long as possible, it can't just be about money. There has to be motivation, and it has to be growth, and it has to be opportunities you're helping them find,” explains Emil Michael. “I would help find them advisory gigs at other companyies if they are seeking varietys and help them expand their scope inside and outside the company soo they had a lot more attachment to the ecosystem of the company. I cared a lot about it, and I would spend a lot of time with people making sure I understood what they needed to go the distance.”

Emil Michael: A Good Executive Can Determine Whether It’s Worth Building a Business From Scratch or Partnering With a Local Player

Michael stresses the importance of being realistic in all aspects of business, especially when doing a build-buy analysis. “Be realistic. That is my advice to leaders, corporate people, and finance people,” explains Michael. “Like, ‘We could build that in six months with 10 engineers.’ From there I have questions like, ‘Doesn't your main business need all the engineers it can get? Are you actually going to build this thing in six months? If you don't, have you lost market position because it's going to take you a year longer? How much is that worth?’ It’s about dissecting everything and getting to the meat and bones of the situation.”

While at a popular ride-sharing company, Michael focused more on building the business than on acquiring the competition. “We did some smart acquisitions, but mostly we built it. And when I think about that, it's a mixed bag,” says Michael. “I think it would have been right to acquire Lyft instead of building a brand that appealed to the customers that they had. And their customers didn't overlap with ours for a long time because they had a unique brand. It was playful, it was different, and it was lighter-weight. However, concerning the build-or-buy issue, most acquisitions fail. However, look at Instagram and WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, and inside of Google (News - Alert). So it's just hard to have a one-size-fits-all approach on this.”

If a company does achieve a successful acquisition, its top executives should have already clearly mapped out the next steps. “You have to decide what you want out of that company. For example, do you want the leadership to transition after two years, or do you want them to be part of the effort for the next foreseeable future?” says Michael. “And it’s important to be realistic about that because usually an entrepreneur who you've acquired doesn't want a non-entrepreneur at your company. So being realistic about what you expect is crucial.”

Emil Michael: A Strong Point of View Is Imperative

Michael cites Tim Cook as an excellent example of an executive with a strong point of view. When Cook became the CEO of Apple in August 2011, the tech company hadn’t created anything groundbreaking in a while, and people weren’t as impressed with iPhones and iPads anymore. “What did Tim do? He built a massive accessory business and massive app store business,” says Emil Michael. “[Cook] squeezed operational efficiency out of the system. He took the business in a direction that worked because he had a strong point of view.”

Executives Must Be Willing To Change and Adapt

“Since 2017, lots of other companies have realized that workplaces have to be formed and no company is immune from needing to change and adapt,” explains Emil Michael. He points out that a lot of the people who worked at Uber early on have been taking what they learned at the ride-sharing company and utilizing that knowledge as they start their own companies. ”They are building companies and talking to hundreds of young people about the great things they learned during the best time of their life,” he says. “So there is an infiltration of that happening, and I think it'll continue to get stronger.”

Learning From the Best: Bill Campbell
Emil Michael hopes he’s following in the footsteps of the late Bill Campbell, the Columbia University head football coach turned top executive at Apple and Intuit (News - Alert). “I have spent the last [few] years working to mold what I do around what Bill Campbell did for a lot of young entrepreneurs,” Michael explains.

Campbell was known as “The Coach” of Silicon Valley for his work with some of the world’s most famous businessmen, including Steve Jobs (News - Alert) and Larry Page, before his death in 2016. “I do it a little more commercially and a little more in depth,” notes Michael. “So I picked a few companies that I liked and got along with the founders. That’s why I picked Gopuff, Brex, Revolut and Kalshi— those are the companies where I felt we had a lot of camaraderie. And I work with them on the things I'm best at: mergers and acquisitions, fundraising, executive hiring, and hyper-growth. That’s a job that I spend a quarter of my time on per company.”

Emil Michael: I Invest in Entrepreneurs

The tech magnate gets a great deal of satisfaction from mentoring the next generation of influential businesspeople. “I get a lot out of it because these companies are led by great entrepreneurs, all in hyper-growth and super interesting. I invest in them alongside advising their business” says Michael. “It’s been really rewarding. It's different than being a general in the field, being more of a coach, but it's been very rewarding to get the next generation forward.” With Emil Michael guiding them, there’s no doubt the future business leaders of tomorrow are in good hands today.

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